The Managerial Revolution Book Summary - The Managerial Revolution Book explained in key points
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The Managerial Revolution summary

James Burnham

What is Happening in the World

3.6 (27 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

'The Managerial Revolution' by James Burnham argues that the rise of managerial class will lead to the end of capitalism and the emergence of a new social order. It highlights the growing power of administrative bureaucracies and their potential impact on society.

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    The Managerial Revolution
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    Capitalist society has several defining characteristics.

    At the time when the author was writing, the dawn of a new era seemed inevitable. Society seemed to be transitioning from one type to another – from a capitalist society to a managerial one. But before we can understand what this new world would look like, we must take a close look at capitalism.

    Since the end of the Middle Ages, capitalism has been the dominant political and economic structure in both the United States and much of Europe.

    But what are the defining features of a capitalist society?

    The first important characteristic of capitalism relates to production. In a capitalist society, each of the produced goods, whether their purpose is to feed or entertain us, is viewed as a commodity. This means that everything has a monetary value or price. From houses to gold to a person’s labor – everything in a capitalist society is looked at from the point of view of its monetary exchange value rather than its ability to satisfy any actual need.

    Secondly, under capitalism, money plays a crucial second function in the economy, separate from its role as a medium of exchange. Namely, money is used as capital. In a capitalist society, money can be transformed into machines, raw materials and labor, which can make products. These products are then sold, thereby retranslating the initial capital into money again. In other words, under capitalism, money makes money.

    Another defining feature of capitalist society is that the production of goods is carried out for profit. For example, what determines whether a shoe factory can continue to produce shoes is not whether local children are going barefoot, but whether the shoes can be sold at a profit on the market.

    Finally, under capitalism, people can be broadly separated into two social classes. One class is composed of the individuals who own the instruments of production, such as factories, machines and railroads, and who hire others to operate these means of production. These individuals are known as capitalists and their ownership of the instruments of production, as well as their ability to give themselves a bigger share of the resulting products, makes them the ruling class.

    The second class of citizens in a capitalist society are usually referred to as the proletariat or the workers. These are the people who sell their labor to the owners, do not own any of the instruments of production themselves, and who typically receive a smaller, unequal share of the products.

    You probably see all these aspects of capitalism in society today, but will they still be around tomorrow?

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    What is The Managerial Revolution about?

    Drawing on powerful arguments and demonstrating extraordinary insights, in The Managerial Revolution (1941) James Burnham investigates the rise of a new ruling class – the managers – who promised to unseat wealthy capitalists from their prime position in the mid-twentieth-century economy. Although written over seven decades ago, the themes and arguments from this book still resonate in today’s society.

    The Managerial Revolution Review

    The Managerial Revolution (1941) offers an insightful analysis of the shift from capitalism to a new form of society controlled by managers. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It presents a compelling argument for the rise of managerial power, exposing the potential consequences for society and economics.
    • Supported by historical evidence and a deep understanding of political theory, the book offers a thought-provoking perspective on the future of capitalism.
    • With its rigorous analysis and thoughtfully crafted arguments, this book challenges traditional assumptions and leaves readers with a deep sense of intellectual stimulation.

    Who should read The Managerial Revolution?

    • History buffs looking for fresh insights into the mid-twentieth century
    • Anyone curious about how a capitalist economy works
    • Those looking for a new perspective on current affairs

    About the Author

    James Burnham was an American political theorist and philosopher. In later life, he was a prominent public intellectual who regularly contributed to publications such as the National Review.

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    The Managerial Revolution FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Managerial Revolution?

    The main message of The Managerial Revolution is an analysis of the rise of a new class of managers and its implications for society.

    How long does it take to read The Managerial Revolution?

    The reading time for The Managerial Revolution varies based on individual reading speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Managerial Revolution a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Managerial Revolution is worth reading as it sheds light on the significant societal changes brought about by the rise of managerial class.

    Who is the author of The Managerial Revolution?

    James Burnham is the author of The Managerial Revolution.